Weatherford Democrat

May 4, 2014

EXTENSION NEWS: Celebrating 100 years of Extension

Weatherford Democrat

The National Cooperative Extension Systems celebrates a century of improving lives this year with the 100-year anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act. Signed on May 8, 1914, the Smith-Lever Act would “aid in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects related to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics and rural energy and to encourage the application of the same.”

The appropriation of Cooperative Extension as established by Smith-Lever was unique in that it set up a shared partnership among the federal, state and county levels of government. A formula funding mechanism was designed to insure that there was support from each of the levels to help. This allowed land-grant universities to place professional educators in local communities and share their research and knowledge.

The extension work was to consist of the development of practical applications of research knowledge and giving of instruction and practical demonstrations of existing or improved practices or technologies in agriculture and home economics in subjects relating to people and communities through demonstrations, publications, and educational programs. 

In Texas there is a vast network of 254 county extension offices and 900 professional educators with expertise researched and evident based information. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension is available to every resident in every Texas county with programs custom-designed to meet the different need of residents in Texas. Programs for each county come from a volunteer-based approach where local residents provide input through committees, task forces and programs to help develop programs that meet the needs of local residents in Parker County. Programs include agriculture, horticulture, 4-H and youth development.

Extension expertise and educational outreach pertain to the food and fiber industry, natural resources, family and consumer sciences, nutrition and health and community development. Among those served are youth who benefit from 4-H and youth development programs through clubs, schools and community activities. In Parker County 4-H has always been a part of extension. There are currently eight clubs with youth involved in every community in the county with over 350 youth. Also 4-H is involved in providing 4-H programs through curriculum enrichment reaching over 5,000 youth.

Extension Education Clubs has always been a part of extension. They were originally called Home Demonstration Clubs. They were created to support the 4-H program, but were also involved in providing education to women and being involved in leadership development and community service. The first club was organized in Springtown in 1919 and is still a very active club today. 

The agriculture program is also involved in working with local residents, farmers and ranchers, gardeners in providing relevant information agriculture, horticulture, water conservation and water quality as well as other areas. 

In Parker County, extension has been strong. The first county extension agent that was originally called “farm demonstrator” was Frank Clark who was hired in 1910. Mary Sue Maddox was the first home demonstration agent hired in 1914. The current county extension agents serving Parker County are Jon Green, County Extension Agent- Agricultural and Natural Resource; Kayla Neill-Peek, County Extension Agent – 4-H and Youth Development; and Kathy Smith, County Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Sciences.

This is a list of people who have worked as a County Extension Agent in Parker County.

County Extension Agent – Agriculture and Natural Resources: Frank Clark, Joseph J. Caldwell, R. L. Banks, Robert Withers, J. W. Jackson, J. H. Surovik, James O. Woodsman, Harold G. Law, Jerry M. Price,  Walter E. Kruse, James S. Denton Jr., William Sears, Jimmie H. McDaniel, Paul Jenkins and Jon Green. 

County Extension Agent Assistant – Agriculture: Billie Brooks, Kenneth Hayes and Bob Whitney.

County Extension Agent – Family and Consumer Sciences: Mary Sue Maddox, Lilla L. Pearce, Trulie A Richmond, Mrytle Murray, Isla Mae Chitwood, Grace Truman Woodruff, Janie Parks, Annie Mae Donaghey, Martha, Buttrill and Black Roach Foster. Family consumer and science educators were called home demonstration agents up until the late 1970s. They were then named county extension agent – home economics and the changed to family and consumer sciences.